Celta Vigo vs Manchester United: Jose Mourinho doesn't expect Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to be fit for EL clash

Naveen Ullal
Eden Hazard

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho claims centre-backs Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are unlikely to be fit in time to face Celta Vigo at Balaidos in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final on 4 May.

The England international duo picked up injuries during the last international break in March. The duo are still recovering from injury and the former Real Madrid and Chelsea manager earlier admitted Smalling and Jones could return in mid-May.

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With Marcos Rojo out of action for the rest of the season, Mourinho had urged Smalling and Jones "to do a last push" in order to make themselves available. The Red Devils settled for 1-1 draw against Swansea City at Old Trafford. The tie saw left-back Luke Shaw and centre-back Eric Bailly pick up injuries.

Matteo Darmian replaced Bailly in the second half against Paul Clement's side. The Ivory Coast international's latest setback means United have four injured centre-backs in the squad. Mourinho explained who could start in the central defence alongside Daley Blind against Celta on Thursday.

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"I don't think they [Smalling and Jones] will [be available to face Celta Vigo]," Mourinho explained, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.

"That's my personal opinion, I don't think they will but I know that the players I choose will give everything, so it doesn't matter if I go with Darmian central defender, if I go with Carrick or Axel [Tuanzebe], I trust the boys."

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In addition to the five injuries, United are already without the services of utility player Timothy Fosu-Mensah and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The two players are expected to be out of action for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, Mourinho confirmed United will welcome Juan Mata and Paul Pogba to face Celta in the Europa League semi-final. The Spain international was on the bench to face Swansea, while the former Juventus midfielder has recovered from the hamstring he picked up against Burnley.

In addition to this, Marouane Fellaini is eligible to face the La Liga side as the Belgium midfielder is suspended for three league fixtures after headbutting Manchester City's Sergio Aguero in the derby.

"The spirit is amazing, the group is phenomenal, Fellaini and Pogba will be back for that game, so a bit more options and we try with everything we have and we go again," United manager stressed.

"I prefer not to speak about Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. I prefer to speak about Juan Mata giving everything to be available. I am grateful for that."

Chris Smalling-Phil Jones

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